Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Rice, Paella and Valencia

My earliest brush with a paella would have been as part of the Vesta meals range in my student days - Hmm which shall I cook tonight, Beef Chow Mein or Paella?

Paella goes with Spain like rock goes with Blackpool.

Paella is available all over Spain, in fact all over the World, but it originated in the area around Valencia. Once I got here I soon realised that my idea that paella was a yellow rice, seafood and chicken dish was only partially true. There are tens, maybe hundereds, of recipes generally dependant on what produce is abundant locally. So, on the coast the traditional dish is indeed seafood and chicken whilst near us in Pinoso they cook the rice with rabbit and snails. That's why Valencianos usually call the food rice rather than paella. Apparently the paella is the name of the wide, flat, handled pans that the rice is cooked in though, to be honest, the words for the food and the utensil are now more or less interchangeable even for Spaniards.

We were in Valencia with our Spanish pal Pepa the other day. She realised we were hard up but still looking for something a bit different so she took us to this open air paella stall. There was a typical seafood paella but they also had one with bacalao and cauliflower - "Just like the rice my Gran used to cook", said Pepa.

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